On a British Airways aircraft earlier this month, a black labrador was inadvertently flown 7,000 miles in the wrong direction, leaving her “traumatised,” according to her owners. Instead of travelling with her owners to Nashville, Tennessee in the US, the beloved dog, named Bluebell, was put on a flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. IAG Cargo, a cargo handling company, had coordinated Bluebell’s journey.
When James and Madison Miller left Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, on December 1 to relocate abroad, the error occurred. The couple arrived at the airport to pick up Bluebell from customs officials after their long-distance flight from Heathrow Airport, only to be greeted by the incorrect dog, a cockapoo puppy.
“The BA employees researched what had happened, and when they informed me that we had sent your puppy to Saudi Arabia, I was shocked. We wanted our Bluebell, not a little golden dog, Ms Miller said. After being located in Riyadh, the five-year-old rescue puppy Bluebell “was eventually transported back to London Heathrow and then on to Nashville, spending a total of 60 hours in cargo,” according to The Mirror.
The owners say that Bluebell was “traumatised” as a result of the mistake, and that this has cost them thousands of pounds in home damage because they are unable to leave her alone. The couple are asking British Airways to pay for medication and rehabilitation costs.
“It’s been a tremendous hardship bringing Bluebell to America with us, even though we did everything perfectly. After the ordeal, she ripped through her kennel in the first 10 minutes when we tried to leave her home alone, according to Mr. Miller.
The second time, he continued, “she chewed through a wooden door while crying the entire time. So now we can’t leave her—she might hurt herself. She finds it too distressing to be apart from us. She is taking anxiety medicine three times a day, and we are working closely with a vet team and behaviourist to manage her anxiety. But we are unsure of whether she will ever be the same. Our hearts are breaking, Mr. Miller continued.
The pair was reassured by an IAG Cargo spokeswoman who expressed regret for what had happened and expressed that “any dog that travels long-haul with transfers would be examined and their water bowls replenished.”
The airline subsidiary also stated that following her return to Heathrow, Bluebell was brought to a designated animal reception centre where personnel “cared for Bluebell, allowed her to stretch her legs, and received refreshments before to her continuing journey home.”